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County, residents go over plans for Courthouse Road Extension
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Courthouse Road Extension residents take a look at proposed routes for the improvement of the troubled ash road. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

As Effingham County officials listened, they heard plenty about the proposed route for a reworked Courthouse Road Extension.

The county held an open house recently to discuss the plans for Courthouse Road Extension, a much-traveled and problem-plagued stretch connecting Highway 17 to Midland Road.

“It is a very heavily-traveled ash road,” said interim county administrator Toss Allen.

Allen said the purpose of the open house, which drew about a dozen people to the county administrative complex, was for the county to hear any concerns residents along the road may have. The county has not drawn up a full design for the road.

“So if we get their concerns now,” Allen said, “it’s easier to make changes.”

There were plenty of questions for the county about the proposed width of the road and how much property the county may need to acquire from residents to complete the project. The road, once finished, will have an 80-foot right-of-way.

For some, that could mean the loss of some of their property, especially for those closer to the Midland Road intersection, according to Courthouse Road Extension resident Larry Carroll.

“Their houses are built close to the road,” he said. “An 80-foot right-of-way is going to put ditches right on their garage doors. Some property owners are going to be hurt. Some property owners aren’t going to be bothered.”

Carroll said the road is in need of improvement.

“With as much traffic as you have and emergency vehicles on it, something has to be done,” he said. “When ambulances and fire trucks are re-routed because of the damage, that tells you how bad it is. The county is playing political football with it.”

First District Commissioner Forrest Floyd said constituents have made their complaints known about the condition of the road.

“I’ve heard from quite a few folks,” he said. “We couldn’t really repair it because it was so damaged.

“We scraped it and put down a surface treatment but then we had a dust problem. Then we had rain, and the ash gets on people’s cars.”

The county has placed a surface treatment on the road as a temporary measure. One woman called Floyd to express her gratitude over that remedy.

“We had to do something,” Floyd said. “It is heavily traveled.”

The current surface treatment, though, wouldn’t last as a permanent fix, and Floyd said once the permanent repairs are made the drainage will be better because there will be ditches in place.

Courthouse Road Extension hasn’t always had an ash base, Carroll said. The road has gone from sand to clay to ash to asphalt, then back to ash and now has the chip and seal surface treatment, he related.

“We’ve been working on it for years and years,” Allen said.

The permanent repair to the road calls for graded aggregate base added to the base while new dirt is mixed in with the ash to create a better base. Asphalt then will be applied on top of that. This method has been used to fix other high traffic volume ash roads.

Work on Courthouse Road Extension is in the short-term work program, which commissioners have approved. The project was bid in three separate pieces, with right-of-way, topography and engineering each contracted separately.

The county has not purchased any right-of-way, Allen said, and won’t until the alignment is finalized.

“The engineers are on board,” Allen said. “They are ready to make the alignment final as soon as we tell them. We’re ready to start. As soon as the alignment is tied down, we can approach property owners about right-of-way.”

But one hurdle on the road will be relocating utilities along the mile and a half of Courthouse Road Extension. It took approximately a year to relocate utilities along Old Augusta Road.

“They really drive the schedule,” Allen said.

Once the right-of-way needed is identified and acquired, work on the road should take about a year to finish, Allen said.